Jean Zerbo
Cardinal Archbishop of Bamako
ChurchRoman Catholic
Appointed27 June 1998
PredecessorLuc Auguste Sangaré
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Via Tuscolana (2017-)
Ordination10 July 1971
by Pierre Louis Leclerc
Consecration20 November 1988
by Jozef Tomko
Created cardinal28 June 2017
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Birth nameJean Zerbo
Born (1943-12-27) 27 December 1943 (age 77)
Ségou, Mali
Previous post(s)
MottoIntendant des mystères de Dieu
Coat of arms

Jean Zerbo (born 27 December 1943) is a Malian Roman Catholic prelate who has served as Archbishop of Bamako since 1998. Pope Francis raised him to the rank of Cardinal on 28 June 2017. He is the first cardinal from Mali.


Jean Zerbo was born on 27 December 1943 in Ségou, Mali, and ordained a priest there on 10 July 1971[1] by Pierre Louis Leclerc, Bishop of Ségou.[2]

He continued his education first in Lyon in 1975[3] and then in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute from 1977 to 1981, earning his licenciate in sacred scripture.[1] Beginning in 1982, he was assigned to parish work in Markala while also teaching at the Major Seminary in Bamako.[1]

On 21 June 1988, Pope John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Bamako and Titular Bishop of Accia.[1] On 20 November 1988, he was consecrated bishop by Jozef Tomko, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, with Luc Auguste Sangaré, Archbishop of Bamako, and Joseph Paul Barnabé Perrot, Bishop emeritus of San, as co-consecrators.[4]

On 19 December 1994, Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Mopti and on 27 June 1998 Archbishop of Bamako.[1]

Pope Francis raised Zerbo to the rank of cardinal at a consistory on 28 June 2017.[5] At the end of May, Le Monde reported that Zerbo and other Malian prelates had secret Swiss bank accounts.[6] Mali's conference of bishops responded that the financial dealings were "transparent", called the news report "tendentious", and noted that the Swiss Leaks release of financial documents appeared timed to embarrass the Catholic Church in Mali just when Zerbo's elevation put it in the public spotlight.[7][8] La Stampa said that Zerbo's participation in the consistory demonstrated that an internal investigation had cleared him of financial wrongdoing.[9]

As archbishop he has fostered dialogue between Christians and Mali's Muslim majority and participated in peace negotiations,[10][11] as well as called for humanitarian aid to those affected by conflicts in the country.[12] In 2012, he was part of a delegation of representatives of civil society that participated in discussions between Mali's ruling military regime and opposition political parties. He has been an advocate for national reconciliation ever since.[13] He has also served as president of Caritas Mali, an international aid program for refugees and the poor.[13]

On 4 October 2017 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Francis made him a member of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life on 23 December 2017.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Annuncio di Concistoro il 28 giugno per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali, 21.05.2017" (Press release) (in Italian). Press Office of the Holy See. 21 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Mali: l'évêque de Bamako nommé Cardinal par le pape François". Africa Post News (in French). 22 May 2017. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Mali : Mgr Jean Zerbo, archevêque de Bamako, nommé cardinal par le pape François". Jeune Afrique (in French). 22 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ Cheney, David M. "Jean Cardinal Zerbo [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  5. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (28 June 2017). "Pope Francis to Five New Cardinals: Jesus 'Calls You to Serve Like Him and With Him'". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  6. ^ Dembélé, David (30 May 2017). "Mali: l'archevêque de Bamako a abrité des millions d'euros en Suisse" [Mali: archbishop of Bamako sheltered millions of euros in Switzerland]. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Vaticano, accuse al neocardinale del Mali: 'Conti in Svizzera con 12 milioni di euro'" [Vatican, accuse the new Malian cardinal: accounts in Switzerland with 12 million euros]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 31 May 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  8. ^ Luxmoore, Jonathan (21 June 2017). "Mali's first cardinal said to foster regional peace, understanding". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  9. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (28 June 2017). "Il Papa: "Gesù non vi chiama a essere prìncipi, ma a servire"". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  10. ^ "L'archevêque Jean Zerbo de Bamako nommé cardinal par le pape François". MaliJet (in French). 21 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  11. ^ D'Emilio, Frances. "Pope names cardinals for Laos, Mali, Sweden, Spain, Salvador". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 22 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  12. ^ Slama, Joe. "Mali's first cardinal, Archbishop Jean Zerbo". Catholic News Agency. Catholic News Agency/EWTN News. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Attanasio, Luca (22 May 2017). "Jean Zerbo, il cardinale della pace in Mali". La Stampa. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 23.12.2017" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Louis Jean Dufaux
Titular Bishop of Accia
21 June 1988 – 19 December 1994
Succeeded by
Jean-Claude Périsset
Preceded by
Georges Biard
Bishop of Mopti
19 December 1994 – 27 June 1998
Succeeded by
Georges Fonghoro
Preceded by
Luc Auguste Sangaré
Archbishop of Bamako
27 June 1998 –
Preceded by
Paulo Evaristo Arns
Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Via Tuscolana
28 June 2017–